out of 70 seats - it is rare. No one including anyone in AAP had expected it to
be so exceptionally well. But the results are here now. What AAP did right was
it played its cards well and let the 'perceptions' work on public sentiments.
perceptions did deliver for Kejriwal, based on his performance as the chief
minister last time and BJP's handling of Delhi polls this time.
apology and overcoming the 'deserter tag': Leaving Delhi midway in
February 2014, just after 49 days in the government to pursue an agenda to
score in national politics, was clearly seen as a selfish act by Arvind
Though Kejriwal tried all to justify
his ‘act’ saying it was not a 'deserter act' and he didn’t betray the trust of
Delhiites, and rather he was forced to take a moral stand as he was not being
allowed to pass his Jan Lokpal Bill, he was later on forced to realize and apologise.
However, once the sense prevailed, no
matter how, he kept on repeating his ‘apology’ saying ‘we committed mistake’
while requesting people to judge him and his party by his work of 49 days and
what he could do based on that if he was given the full five years.
49 days of governance into an asset: The ‘deserter tag’ had become the
main talking point on every political opponent’s agenda for targeting Kejriwal
and Kejriwal had to overcome it to win the trust of voters again and the best
way to do so was to make his '49 days of governance' a lucrative proposition.
And AAP could do it successfully as
there were indeed praiseworthy elements to talk about Kejriwal's governance. There
were indeed millions - from the poor in the slums, from lower and middle income
areas, street vendors, auto drivers, traders - who experienced extortion and
corruption free days when police, MCD and routine office corruption (even in
regional transport offices) were effectively kept in check. AAP’s water and
power subsidies were implemented as promised.
For voters, oppressed under a system
that makes corruption a part of life, these steps were big enough to ignore the
wrongs of AAP then (and even now), as evident by the historic mandate to the latest
serious debutante in Indian politics.
And the thought of having such days
for full five years can be a big motivator for voters of Delhi and Arvind
Kejriwal and AAP have been able to convey this effectively countering the
ignominy of the ‘deserter tag’.
It was not in November when the Lieutenant-Governor finally decided that polls
were the only option to resolve Delhi's political deadlock or not in January
when the Election Commission notified the polls, in fact, AAP had started
working in Delhi soon after the Lok Sabha polls.
Though there were efforts to form a
government somehow in Delhi and even AAP was party to such developments, the scene
was never clear and the party kept of lubricating its machinery to go in full
throttle once the polls were in clear sight and that happened in late last
October. On the other hand, winner of the 2013 assembly polls, BJP, was busy in
pursuing its political interest in other states, taking Delhi lightly, even if
the Delhi BJP was a divided house. And Congress was piling up electoral
humiliations one after the other.
Once it became clear that polls had
become necessary, AAP launched its campaign to cover Delhi comprehensively,
focusing on person to person contact with a positively themed campaign, loaded
with freebies and goodies. And it was helped well with their clean image and
the background of anti-corruption activism.
BJP’s state president: Irrespective of the stature Satish Upadhyay
enjoyed in Delhi, whose elevation displeased many in Delhi BJP, his demotion
pushing him to the periphery after AAP’s ‘hit and run’ allegation on him having
nexus with Delhi power distribution companies (that allegedly hurt the power
consumers), helped AAP getting the initial advantage needed to build further
The timing of Kiran Bedi’s sudden
induction and Satish Upadhyay’s sidelining after AAP’s allegation were
certainly not isolated developments.
BJP’s counter reaction on allegation
was a routine retort. Instead of taking on AAP with conviction, the party chose
to sacrifice Upadhyay. That sent the message that BJP was getting defensive
(and so there was some truth in the allegation). Bedi’s sudden elevation, when
seen in context of Narendra Modi’s January 10 rally launching BJP’s Delhi
campaign that performed below expectations and sidelining of Upadhyay after the
allegation, further conveyed that the party was in panic.
It bolstered AAP's campaign in the final
crucial days after the poll date announcement.
Yes there were negative elements but they were more like aberrations when seen
in the context of the overall AAP campaign.
Though AAP reiterated most of what it
had promised in its 2013 poll manifesto, its leaders went on talking about them
empathically while interacting with people, while appealing for votes. They
focused on their own agenda while targeting the opponents and didn’t follow the
negative way of campaigning that BJP and Congress resorted to. They seldom got
personal, something that we saw in Kiran Bedi’s case. While Bedi did attack Kejriwal
personally, senior AAP leaders including Kejriwal desisted from launching
personal attack on Kejriwal’s ‘India Against Corruption’ colleague. AAP’s
personal attacks on Kiran Bedi were mostly to reply Bedi’s personal attacks,
like calling Kejriwal ‘bhagora (someone who ran away).
Elements like asking voters to film
those offering money to vote for other parties and the subsequent duel for it
that he had with the Election Commission, or campaign rhetoric like 'some
manipulated sting operation may be shown to tarnish AAP's image in the final
days of campaigning' were in acceptable line of survival instincts for a party
with limited resources that was taking on the might of the likes of BJP and
Congress with billions on their disposal.
is not an angry soul anymore: Arvind Kejriwal looks much more
relaxed and composed now. The mufflerman has become a face that mostly smiles
back. That tells how quickly he has transformed to understand the nuances of
Indian politics. The ‘activist to politician’ metamorphosis is complete it
He did not target Narendra Modi. He
said he would not respond to the personal attacks on him and maintained his
stand. Kiran Bedi targeted him but he invited her for public debate requesting
the BJP CM nominee to unblock him from her Twitter account.
Except Satish Upadhyay ‘expose’ (in
fact, no expose at all), he largely did not practice his ‘hit and run’ style of
campaigning. Instead, he utilized his energy in intensive campaigning
addressing people and holding over hundred public meetings across Delhi. He was
accessible to everyone.
He did not slip even when the
government declined his request for the Republic Day Parade invitation and BJP
leaders including Kiran Bedi mocked him. Even if Kejriwal had threatened to
derail the Republic Day function in 2014, the government had no right to
ridicule him this time, and that too, when Kiran Bedi was there in the front
row of the Republic Day Parade. It certainly didn't go well with the watchers
His humility, coupled with his hard
work, has served him an exceptional return, and all who have voted for him
would pray that he returns it with an equally exceptional governance.
To correct a system, one needs to be part of it – okay, it cannot be said that
AAP is here for political activism to cleanse politics as they always say
unless we see them doing so consistently over some years – but they are well,
part of the system now – and they are trying to act politically correct,
speaking to every religion and class, not sounding pro to some while
discriminating against others.
A day before Delhi votes, Arvind
Kejriwal visited holy places of all four major religions that matter in Delhi
polls to seek blessings. His party vocally declined Imam Bukhari’s pledge of
support. His party’s spokesperson was detained while protesting against the
acts of vandalism in Delhi churches.
Also, he was readily accessible to
media this time. The media bashing by AAP didn't make for headlines in these
polls. Instead, he used media mileage to further his campaign meticulously,
making it an important element of his campaign mix.
voters across the sections of society while maintaining the secular plank: AAP's immediate
refusal to Imam Bukhari''s offer of support was to further consolidate its position,
especially in targeting and attracting the vote share of Congress and how
successful it has been becomes evident from the poll percentage of different
While BJP had a marginal dip from its
2013 poll % (32.3% from 33.07%), it was Congress that lost its major chunk to AAP,
coming down to 9.7% from 24.55% of 2013. Also, AAP's rise from 29.5% in 2013 to
54.3% now, a jump of 24%, tells that in addition of Congress, AAP ate into the
pie of others as well, if not BJP.
AAP tried to reach out to its traditional
votebanks as well as those who had been traditionally voting for Congress. It
also tried to reach out to those who voted for BJP in the Lok Sabha polls -
upper middle class and youth. AAP designed its campaign and manifesto not on
caste and religion and but on income and age-groups and Delhi's population
composition has majority of low and middle income people and migrants who came in
search of livelihood.
More than half of the votes cast,
something that happens rarely in India, tells us that AAP got support from
every section of the society. According to different post-poll analyses, while
poor, lower and middle income segments, Muslims and youth voted overwhelmingly
for AAP, even in the higher income groups, a considerable chunk voted for the